How fast is your “world” changing?

The World is changing fast, and in new directions! How about your own world? Is it changing sufficiently fast to keep up with the “surroundings”? And, what should you do to keep it alive and kicking? Honestly, I do not know! However, what I do know it is that stand still in denial will not help you, you need to keep up with change proactively.

Although I have written before about this subject – being the most recent Backwards or Forward? -,  I keep assisting to crucial mistakes, and good companies going out of business. Keeping doing business like you did last century will, sooner than later, putting your company out of the business. Therefore, I insistinnovation, uniqueness, creativity, talent, and diversity are all key words on keeping a company striving and excelling, however, I would like to add alertness, adaptation and adoption to the list; – Please read the article Adopt, Adapt or Adios! by William Powell –  The solution passes by working hard, creating new trends, being unique, and taking advantage of what is happening around you. Ignoring or closing your eyes to changes will lead you nowhere, and only make you lose time and competitiveness.

Some ideas! Stimulate brainstorming around trends inside your company, have a special team working on future trends (even if in part-time), and link them strongly with your R&D and Innovation teams, and try out innovative projects. Ah, and do not afraid new technologies, instead use it at your service! Recruit the talent that makes the difference, people with a vision, eager to learn, and open to change.

Although Innovation is everywhere, also a post I once wrote, you will not be able to do it if you keep exaggerating on your skepticism to change and new trends. Please, do yourself a favor, stay wired to the real world, be inquisitive, and follow what is happening out there.

How Recruiting can help your Brand!

How about brand your company while hiring talent? I face recruiting as an excellent opportunity to communicate and interact with potential talents, but also with potential and present consumers. Therefore, it is a moment of great opportunity to improve, or create, brand awareness. As a (internal) recruiter you are also brand ambassador, someone that can communicate your company’s brand, or brands. Ah, do not forget that when bringing a third party in to handle the recruitment process, you are hiring not only recruiters but also “brand ambassadors”, and that can harm your brand if not carefully done. Honestly, I must say that too many were the times that while being contacted or contacting a HR department or a third party agency regarding a job ad, I came across with brand damage along the process. Why? Well, I believe that they do not understand what it is at stake, and besides recruiting people and dealing with talent needs, they are not invited nor trained to be official “brand ambassadors”.  In order to have the whole company motivated and aware of their brand duties, you need to create a culture of cross-section sharing and participation among the company. Being the bottom line here the need for a strong synergy between the corporate strategy and marketing department and the HR department. Obviously, I believe that you can extend this to the rest the departments in your company.

Recruiting people is key to a company, firstly because it deals with bringing talented people in and increase the company’s competitiveness. Secondly, because it creates a pool of talent to keep an eye on regarding future needs. And  thirdly, it allows to communicate formal and informally with people that are already interested in your company. Have you ever thought about how many people a recruiter interacts with while recruiting for your company? Yes, I know! A huge figure, isn’t it? And, how many job ads do they post advertising the company’s needs? Yes, I know, also a non negligible figure! Ah, and if you could use these “non negligible” opportunities to communicate not only your recruiting needs, but also your brand? Wasn’t it amazing! Oh, but you can use them!

I believe you can face this channel (recruiting and talent management) as a strong way of branding your company, and creating awareness and loyalty. Although a lot of aspects of your brand can be communicated, you must always be creative and unique while doing it. Brand is uniqueness, and as a brand ambassador you must communicate accordingly. Therefore, you should work closely with your marketing department to align your message with your company’s brand and marketing strategy. Team work the best the best way of bringing in positive synergies between departments and within a company.

Have you ever though about brand your company through your day-to-day routines of recruiting talent? No? How about give it a try? You will not regret!   Good Luck!

 

Are You Ready to Fail?

Are you ready to fail? No? Well, even if you have everything the business manuals say you should have to be a success case – an amazing product/service, a flawless business plan, competitive advantages, and qualified resources -, please, be prepared to fail! When I say this I am not being pessimist, I am rather trying to be ready and keep my alertness levels high. I am convinced that by acknowledging that I might fail, I am being proactive toward trends and challenges, and better prepared to anticipate them with innovative and creative solutions, therefore, keeping, or even improving, my competitive advantages. And I believe that this will help companies staying in business longer and in better shape.

Failure is part of life! Today’s “best” companies can be tomorrow’s failures. It is not because a company it is a “strong” one today that it will stay that way in the future, failure can happen in between. A more proactive behavior regarding failure can bring a higher level of readiness and help facing the challenges ahead. Failure should be more present in the business lexicon, and faced as something that happens!

Be ready to fail, it will help you anticipating changes rather than copping with them. Innovating and creating are key to competitiveness in the 21st century market, and failure is part of both.

Don’t Work More, Work Better!

Productivity it is a HOT topic among managers and common people, everybody is talking about produce and create more! Well, I agree! However, increase productivity does not mean, in the majority of the cases, working more but rather working better! Be efficient is key to competitiveness in the 21st century. I am strongly convinced that efficient time management, working better, can and should be faced as a competitive advantage. So, how can productivity be increased by working better and more efficiently? Well, I can say that in the short run a lot of things can be done to quickly improve time management efficiency!

Please find here bellow a list with 20 suggestions of things that one can do to improve time management efficiency and work-life balance. You do not need to use all of them, instead you can chose the ones you feel more comfortable with and stick to them. Later, you can gradually accommodate those suggestions that you believe are adequate but don’t feel comfortable with. Ah, and never forget that creativity and innovation can be powerful ingredients on achieving your goals and working better. Good Luck!

1) Plan your week and month ahead, and do not forget to add achievable objectives to each of your tasks. I suggest that you fill your week-plan on Friday the week before, in order to accommodate on it also those tasks you have not had the time or opportunity to finish for that week. If you have a different work week, Friday should be substituted by the last day before your day-off.

2) Check your accomplishments for the ended week on the last day of work before your day-off (normally Friday). Match your planning with what you have really done. This will help you focus on what have been accomplished, and helps you re-scheduling the tasks you have not had time to finish.

3) Define your week maximum work-load, and avoid passing it with too many appointments and tasks. Why? If you fill your week with stuff you already know that you will not have not time to cope with, you will be be rising your anxiety levels and you feel demotivated.

4) Schedule 1-2 slots of 20 to 45 minutes per day for unexpected tasks (at least one slot of 20 minutes);

5) Use your afternoons to schedule meetings – it helps balancing and copping with your energy levels, normally higher in the morning and lower in the afternoon and evening;

6) Meetings: avoid scheduling long meetings (2-hour, or less, meetings are more efficient); meetings must have a clear agenda with all the topics to be discussed and the time allotted to them; Invite external speakers (1 to 2 maxium) for meetings to present something creative and innovative related, or not, to the main topic; Use and “abuse” of informal meetings (stand-up meetings) by the coffee or vending machine (10-15 minutes); Schedule meeting (suggest: Friday afternoon) to analyse week/month achievements/results in order to monitor the real status against the planing;

7) Have a “to do” list, but not be a slave of it; meaning, check out your list at least to times a day – beginning and end of the day, it will help you understand what you have to do and have done) but do not feel you are obliged to do everything on it; Use the Coach – Delegate – Monitor – Praise/Motivate or Criticize (always positively, when needed) method in order to gain time to do what you have to do yourself and also to motivate and empower your team;

8) Avoid submerge in your emails as a first thing in the morning, avoid also to read an email as soon as they arrive (disable email alerts); Instead, schedule in your plan 3-4 periods of 15-20 minutes a day to read/reply emails and do/reply phone calls. Use subject typology and urgency levels, in order to help you screening through your email. Avoid spending your time reading emails or answering your phone if it is not urgent.

9) Use you morning to do your creative and intellectual tasks – like reading or doing reports.

10) Schedule 1-2 10-minute or 20-minute slots with yourself and do not allow being disturbed during that time – during this time you can re-establish your energy levels (taking a quick nap, meditate,…) or simply think about something that needs your full attention;

11) Go out during your lunch break, at least 30 minutes per day – you can eat out and healthier, go to the gym or simply walk. You can also schedule week periods to do something you have never done, stimulating your creativity and going out of your comfort zone – it will help you with problem solving, innovating and being creative. Not to mention that exercise yourself by walking or going to the gym will help you keeping up with demanding tasks and maintain your energy levels high.

12) Keep always a notebook with you – where you can write your ideas as a way of venting your anxiety or do not forget something.

13) Divide your projects into smaller tasks with an objective, a deliverable, resources needed and a deadline – the objective here is to be able to diminish stress and anxiety, and have quick wins along the project, not to mention the efficiency gains.

14) Control your time spent on doing stuff by using your wrist-watch chronometer, smart-phone and PC applications or any other way you can find. I find Egg Timer an easy way of doing it;

15) Use a dashboard with all your KPIs and deadlines – must be up-dated – in order to control your work/project status and any deviations you may have – helps you avoiding deviations and miss deadlines. Information systems and technologies can be highly helpful on controlling and monitoring your KPIs, and mitigating risks.

16) Schedule time to learn about and keep up with what is happening around you and challenge yourself about new and tough topics.

17) Schedule at least one innovative/creative/networking event per week, something that involves a new challenge or something that can bring anything new for you.

18) Try to schedule brainstorming events (1-2 per month) with your peers and colleagues to discuss and debate new topics and listen to different points of view – helps you keeping your mind open.

19) Do not give on tough tasks, if you could not achieve it today try again tomorrow, or in a week time.

20) Avoid working more than 8-9 hours a day or you will be compromising your working capacity and freshness.

Please do not work more, WORK BETTER! Good Luck!

Share your experiences, opinions and suggestions here. Thank you!

How Can A Corporate Culture Based on Frugality Save Your Brand?

I strongly believe that a company does not need to spoil resources to have a strong brand or be competitive Yet, we keep seeing companies spending and spoiling more than they can afford. Working for cost sensible companies gave me an insightful position on this matter, but never inhibited me of focusing on quality or brand image. Therefore, I still believe that if a company wants to face successfully the challenges ahead, it needs Leadership not vanity, and a culture of cost sensibility and frugality, instead of one based on waste .

Cost sensible does not mean less quality or weak brands, it means instead a sensible management of expenses. A company does not need to have expensive offices, latest state of the art fleet, or exquisite furniture to run a business successfully! It needs instead an informed and well trained team willing to be creative and innovative without a millionaire budget, and always committed to be lean and customer-oriented. More important, it needs a leader who uses the companies assets wisely and productively.

cost-sensible and frugal culture can work as a way of freeing up resources to invest in new capabilities and gain stronger competitive advantages. Obviously, for this to happen the company must re-invest the freed-up resources in crucial areas such as innovation, creativity, uniqueness, talent management, R&D or other that can add uniqueness and factors of differentiation.

I strongly advocate that a cost-sensible and frugal culture as a competitive advantage factor and a brand saviour. 

What Complexity Has To Do With Being Competitive? Nothing, I Must Confess!

Complexity is everywhere, I know! However, I sometimes feel that some companies want a piece of this complexity to feel like God, omnipresent and omniscient. This companies believe that by making use of a puzzled language and complex processes they are differentiating themselves from their competition and being unique. Not True!

We, human beings, have a problem with simple things, we believe that to be good and better than others one needs to be complicated and complex. I advocate that complexity leads only to a false sense of superiority, and creates a feeling of suspiciousness in consumers. Consumers do not like to be tricked or fooled by incomprehensible language and processes, though. Complexity does not lead to any competitive advantage, but it can cause damages! It generates difficulties in handling and optimizing processes, and in designing business strategies.

Being simple does not mean simplistic, like complexity does not mean competitiveness! Please avoid shortcuts and keep it simple, invest in uniqueness, creativity and innovation instead!